DON QUIXOTE AND THE WINDMILLS

One of the greatest heroes of Western literature is played for a fool in this picture-book adaptation of Cervantes’s classic. An exposition sets up Don Quixote’s transformation from bookish dreamer to knight errant wannabe, and then the text (and the knight) launch into the famous windmills, ending abruptly immediately afterward. The original runs to 1,000 pages, more or less; any attempt to squeeze it into a 32-page picture book is necessarily going to cut a little. In leaving most of the story on the cutting-room floor, however, this version so compresses Quixote’s character development that he is nothing but a buffoon, with none of the original’s ennobling qualities. Fisher’s illustrations are colorful and amusing enough, but do not compensate for the compression of the text. The whole begs the question: does the picture-book audience really need to be introduced to Don Quixote? There are legions of stories out there that, when rendered for children, entertain while maintaining their integrity, and Kimmel is no slouch at presenting them. But please, let kids grow up and encounter this good knight when they are ready for the real thing. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-31825-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more